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Album reviews Folk album reviews with STEVE JOHNSON: April 24, 2024

New releases from Kitewing, John Meed and Friends and Alex Cumming

Kitewing
Kitewing
Self-Released
★★★★

 

KITEWING is both the name of the group and the debut album of a group of Norfolk-based folk musicians consisting of Christina Alden and Alex Patterson together with their friends The Shackleton Trio.

With a combination of new compositions and traditional songs the album explores themes of nature and the environment with guitars, mandolin and fiddle giving the album an uplifting feel.

Starting with the instrumental Island/Pull Down Your Vest we then have Alden’s own composition The Greenland Shark, a song telling the story from the viewpoint of the world’s oldest living vertebrate.

The theme of seeing things from the viewpoint of another species is also present in Georgia Shackleton’s Five Thousand Miles, reflecting the journey of a migratory bird. There is also a rousing version of the traditional song Handsome Molly and the spiritual sounding Dig Away brings to a close what is an enjoyable album.

John Meed and Friends
A Sudden Rain
Self-released
★★★★

 

JOHN MEED is a Cambridge based singer-songwriter originally from Lancashire and his ninth album is partly inspired by a trip he took to Nepal in 2019 after a hiatus in his song-writing.

The opening song Panauti reflects this travel experience and the hospitality he received from a local family.

But the album also includes songs based on true life stories. Le Boulevard du Strasbourg tells the tale of undocumented workers going on strike and occupying their workplace against their appalling conditions. Cotton Famine Road is about cotton mill workers in Rochdale supporting the struggle against slavery.

Thessalonika tells the story of a Greek woman who fought against the Nazi occupation then joined the communists fighting the Greek army returning to Greece after exile in Czechoslovakia.

Accompanied by other musicians, this album is basically a call for faith in humanity wherever we live.

Alex Cumming
Homecoming
Self-released
★★★★

 

ALEX CUMMING is a traditional folk singer originally from Somerset but now based in Vermont. Having previously recorded with other artists, Homecoming is his debut solo album and consists of both self-penned and traditional songs accompanied by other musicians.

Opening with a sea song, Boston Harbour, there is also a fine a capella version of the traditional Polly Vaughan.

The title track is an instrumental which brings Cumming’s skills in playing the accordion to the fore while Green and Pleasant Land is an interesting reworking of William Blake’s Jerusalem inspired by a Morris dance melody.

Lord Beichan is an Appalachian version of the ballad Lord Bateman and the song ends with a rousing version of How Can I Keep from Singing? an old Shaker hymn made famous by Pete Seeger.

There seems to be no British tour planned but listening to the album is a worthwhile experience.

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